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Authors: Kim Fielding

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BOOK: The Pillar
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Boro sat on the other stool. “You deserve to have someone care for you for a change.”

“No,” Faris said, shaking his head. “I don’t. I told you, I’m only a thief.”

“Not this again. You were a boy, you were hungry. You had no one to look out for you. That’s not theft—it’s desperation. Survival. Anyone would do the same and some would do much worse.”

Faris put his papers down and rubbed his eyes. “I don’t mean the bracelet. That was foolish but… forgivable, I suppose. But it’s not all I’ve stolen.”

“What else?”

The carvings on the table were worn and scarred. Faris wondered how old the piece of furniture was and the name of the man who’d made it. Was he buried near the mosque, or in the little cemetery at the top of the hill nearby? And who bought the thing? Not Enis; it was too old for that. His father, perhaps, or his grandfather. Generations of men had sat here, eating their meals, studying plants, doing what they could to heal the people of Zidar.

“I stole a life,” Faris whispered to the table.

“What do you mean?”

“The first time I…. He was an older man. Bent from years of hard work. And he couldn’t move, could hardly breathe. His back had been broken, you see. That time didn’t feel like theft. He was barely sensible enough to know what was happening anyway, and he had no…. He would have suffocated slowly, I think.” Faris looked up at Boro very quickly, too fast to register the other man’s expression. He knew how that broken man must have felt. His own lungs right now felt as if they’d been lined with lead.

When Boro remained silent, Faris smoothed at a slightly splintery spot near the edge of the table. “The second one was a boy. A child, really. But he’d worn a collar. His neck was raw from it. And his body….” He shuddered with a memory so vivid, it was as if the boy lay before him now. “He was so young, Boro. And surely someone had loved him once, but now he was all alone. Except for me. And I stole his life.”

Boro took Faris’s hand and squeezed it firmly. “Am I a thief too?”

“No.” Faris frowned at him in confusion. “Of course not.”

“But I’ve killed, dusho. I’ve killed… I don’t know how many men.”

“You were a soldier.”

“Soldier, slave, thief, healer. Just words.” He reached across the table and pressed their entwined hands to Faris’s chest. “None of them tell us what’s in here—who a man truly is. And you, truly, are no thief.”

Although they should have been sated after the previous day’s exertions, they made love again that night. They were slow and tender about it, both of them moaning when Faris gently entered Boro’s body. Boro climaxed with a long, drawn-out sigh rather than a shout. Afterward, they curled together, listening to a small storm rattle the shutters.

“I think not all killing is a theft,” Boro said quietly. “Some is a mercy. A gift, even.”

“Perhaps. But how can one know the difference?”

Boro was silent for so long, Faris thought he might have fallen asleep. But then Boro gave him a little squeeze. “I think you ask, were the motives to hurt or help? And the outcome—did it bring peace or pain?”

“I don’t—”

“The people I killed, I don’t even know why they had to die. Because my captain said so, and before that, because a general or a lord said so. Nobody was helped by those deaths, unless maybe a few rich men got even richer. And they brought pain to so many. When you learn those you love have been murdered, it does something to your soul….” His voice broke and he was quiet.

Faris rolled over and leaned his forehead against Boro’s. “You miss your family.”

“Always. But what about the men I killed? Their families must miss them just as much.” He threaded his fingers through Faris’s curls, holding their heads together. “Kurjak misses his brother, I think.”

“Who?”

Boro sighed. “Ratko Kurjak. My owner.”

“You don’t have an owner. You’re fr—”

“I know.” Boro let go of Faris and rolled onto his back. “My former owner, then. His brother was killed in the war. Killed by someone like me. So when he bought me, it wasn’t so much for the labor I could provide as for… revenge, I guess. The pleasure of watching his brother’s murderer suffer.”

Faris didn’t want to hear about Boro’s suffering. The part of it he’d seen firsthand had been more than enough. But he moved closer and nestled his head in the crook of Boro’s shoulder. “You didn’t kill Kurjak’s brother.”

“I might have. Who knows? And in the end, what difference does it make? One enemy is the same as another.” He sighed. “After all that had happened to me, by the time he bought me, I was… I don’t have the right word for it. Numb. Broken. So maybe better he ended up with me than a slave who still had life and hope.”

When Boro breathed, Faris’s head and upper body moved up and down slightly. And Boro was stroking Faris’s hip absently to the same beat. “I didn’t mind the hard work,” Boro said. “I’ve always worked hard, and when the body is exhausted, the mind has less chance to… to wander. But he worked me mercilessly and beat me like a mule no matter how much I did. He fed me garbage I wouldn’t have given to a pig. At night he chained me like a dog. He treated me worse than an animal and I
became
one, Faris. An animal that dumbly accepts its fate. Even when he… he….” Boro clutched Faris tightly. “He liked to watch while his men used me. He liked to hear me scream, to make me beg.”

Boro stopped speaking, and Faris had no reply to any of this. Their breaths rasped. The shutters shook. Something tiny scurried in a corner. Perhaps Faris ought to get a cat.

“Now that you know the truth of it, do I disgust you?” asked Boro.

Faris felt ill, but he answered with complete honesty. “Never. Kurjak disgusts me.”

The noise Boro made in response sounded like a sigh of relief. He kissed the top of Faris’s head.

“All these years he did these things to me, dusho, and I did nothing. Oh, I had small moments of disobedience. I’d break a shovel or upset a jug of wine. I’d leave a gate open so his horses would wander. I’d hide small things in unlikely places. Sometimes I’d simply refuse to work, even knowing I’d have a beating after. I didn’t care. He beat me regardless.”

Faris thought that doing these things must have taken great strength of will, even if Boro wouldn’t admit it. Just surviving for so long was an enormous feat. He didn’t say so, though. He stroked Boro’s slightly bristly cheek instead.

Boro turned his head so he could kiss Faris’s palm. “You are a wonder, Faris. If I’d even dreamed that someday I’d have this…. But I had no dreams at all. Only nightmares.”

Yes, Faris could understand that. His life had been infinitely better than Boro’s, and yet the best he’d hoped for at night was the sweet bliss of nothingness. There must be more to Boro’s story, though. “What changed?”

“Nothing. Nothing ever changed. One day was much like the last, with only… only small differences in the misery. And then… I don’t know. I was tired. The night before, two of Kurjak’s men got drunk and then they… they kept me from sleeping. And then in the morning, one of them deliberately spilled my breakfast on the ground and laughed when I knelt to eat it off the dirt. I was sore and cold and I felt like nothing more than a ghost, haunting the shell of my worn-out body. All I wanted was to lie down and shut out the world forever.”

The world could be a very big place, and a person could be very small when he was alone and without faith that anything would improve. Boro snuffled at Faris’s hair and stroked his upper arm, and Faris twined a leg around one of Boro’s, reminding his lover that he was real and he was there.

“Kurjak stood with wine in one hand and a bowl of dried figs nearby, eating and drinking and watching me dig a hole for God knows what purpose. One of his men had a stick, and whenever I slowed down a little, Kurjak told the man to hit me. And finally I just… just stopped. The man hit me until I fell to my knees and Kurjak began to shout at me, but I wouldn’t stand. And then Kurjak came stomping over and he pulled me up by my hair and he shouted at me.
Worm
, he called me.
Filthy cock-sucking bitch of a dog
.

“I looked him in the eyes for the first time in years. ‘I’m a man,’ I said. And he slapped me across the cheek.” He chuckled humorlessly. “It’s funny. I’d been beaten and whipped and kicked and… and hurt in so many ways. And this slap, I barely felt it. It hardly stung. But it just
snapped
the last remaining piece of me.

“I punched my owner in the face.

“I hit him so hard he fell into the mud and didn’t get up again. He might have been unconscious. It felt
good
. And even when his men dragged me away, even knowing what was going to happen to me next, I felt better than I had in years. Free.”

Like jumping off a bridge
, Faris thought.
That one bright moment before the earth rises up to meet you.
“Are you glad you did it?” he asked.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.” This time, Boro’s laugh was warm. “Well, almost,” he added, palming Faris’s ass.

“You broke his nose. It’s healing crooked.”

“Good. He’s a vain bastard.”

“Boro? He’s never going to touch you again. Not ever.”

Boro squeezed Faris so tightly he couldn’t breathe, then loosened his embrace enough to kiss his head again. “I guess you are a thief after all, dusho. You’ve stolen me for good.”

Chapter Seven

 

“H
OW
ABOUT
this one?” Boro held up a plant so Faris could see it.

“Only if you want to poison everyone,” Faris called back.

Boro peered at the bit of green. “It looks just like the one you showed me.”

“Not really. Look at the shape of the leaves.”

After staring at a leaf for a moment, Boro shrugged and dropped the plant. He strolled over to where Faris knelt, then leaned up against the nearest tree. “I don’t see how you can do this. How you keep track of it all, I mean.”

“I’ve done almost nothing for years but study.” Faris dropped a plant into his basket, stood, and brushed off his hands. “I have all of Enis’s notes to guide me, and his predecessors’ notes as well. Decades of knowledge.”

“Was it hard for you to learn at first?”

“Yes. I knew… nothing. Enough to survive. I couldn’t even keep the house tidy. He had to teach me that, and cooking and shopping and reading and… everything. Some days I thought my head would explode with it all.” He smiled at the memory and the recollection of Enis’s infinite patience.

“Did you ever think of giving it up?”

“Sometimes. But where would I go? Besides, Enis was getting older and he needed help.”

“And you cared about him.”

“I did. And not just for what he did for me. He was a good man. All of Zidar respected him.”

“Like they respect you.”

Faris snorted. His lover had a very particular vision of him, and no amount of arguing would get Boro to see the truth. “It smells like snow, don’t you think? We should get home before the flakes begin to fall.” He lifted his basket and began to walk toward the path, but Boro caught his arm as he passed.

“Maybe a few more minutes, dusho? It’s nice to finally be away from the town.”

“You’re tired of Zidar already?” Faris teased. He could tell from the glint in Boro’s eyes that peace and quiet were not foremost in his mind.

Boro drew him close, then quickly flipped them around so Faris was trapped between the tree and Boro’s body. After a solid month of good meals and moderate exercise, Boro was fully healed, and he was considerably bigger and stronger than Faris. Faris didn’t mind. And he didn’t protest when Boro took the basket and dropped it on the ground or when Boro pressed up tightly against him and mouthed at his jawline, at the tender skin beneath his ear. Even through their cloaks and thick woolen breeches, Faris could feel the length of Boro’s hardness poking against his belly. Faris’s cock was just as firm.

“It’s cold,” Faris complained, but his hands were making their way under Boro’s cloak, trying to get as close to skin as possible. God, he loved Boro’s skin.

“I’ll warm you.” Boro tucked his cap into his belt.

“But… the snow is coming.”

Boro dropped to his knees, shifting his tight grip to Faris’s hips, and looked up at him with a wink. “Not to worry. This will only take a moment.” In a flurry of movement, he untied Faris’s belt, unfastened his breeches, and yanked the fabric out of the way. He pushed Faris back against the tree and took almost all of Faris’s cock into his mouth.

The cold and the snow stopped mattering. Everything stopped mattering to Faris except the warm wetness that engulfed him and the beautiful man kneeling before him, fully attentive to Faris’s pleasure. Oh, and he was so good at it—but then, they’d been practicing quite a bit these last couple of weeks.

Faris rested his hands on Boro’s short hair and watched. And when even the sight became too much for him, he closed his eyes and tipped his head back, knocking it hard against the tree and making his cap fall onto the ground. It probably hurt, but he couldn’t tell because he was far too focused on the sensations Boro was causing: suction and friction, heat, gentle tugging of his balls.

In almost no time at all, Faris emptied himself down Boro’s throat.

“See?” Boro said, grinning and licking his lips. “Hardly a moment.”

Faris blushed a little at his own eagerness, but then Boro kissed his softening cock, nuzzled at the crease of his leg, and tucked him back in. He rearranged the trousers and belt before standing and putting his cap on his head. “Let’s hurry before it snows,” he said with a laugh.

“But… you.” Faris was still feeling weak-kneed and thankful for the support of the tree.

“When we get home. I’m going to spend the entire walk thinking about what I want you to do to me. I’m going to make a plan.”

Sex was good. Wonderful. But even better were Boro’s wide, brilliant smiles. Smiles that told the world he had finally found joy. Faris could never feel cold when that smile was aimed at him.

He bent and retrieved his cap and basket. “I may have a few ideas of my own by the time we get there, you know.”

BOOK: The Pillar
4.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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